Recently several members of the ITS staff attended the EDUCAUSE 2022 Conference. Part of it was held in person in Denver, and part of it was held purely in a virtual environment, on line. EDUCAUSE is one of the largest and more important organizations for higher educational Information Technology folks in the country. It was a lot of fun to get back to meeting folks in person.
One of the more common themes of the conference this year was the increased visibility and emphasis on efforts to support diversity, equity and inclusion in IT. There were talks and posters in every session on topics surrounding the theme that we need to be more inclusive and diverse to fully serve our communities. Similarly and not surprisingly, after the COVID peak, there were lots of sessions detailing how various institutions handled hybrid and remote work and classes.
AI and analytics are always big topics across higher ed IT, and that was reflected again in this year’s conference. It’s a topic we sometimes are challenged by, given our smaller size, since meaningful analyses are harder to do with small numbers.
We were also able to engage with a number of vendors in more detailed and intensive ways than we normally have time for. Among them, we learned that, should we want to change our learning management system (LMS) away from Moodle to the increasingly common Canvas LMS, it wouldn’t be as expensive as we might have thought.
We also spoke with vendors who might be able to help us better offer remote systems for students who come with a Macintosh, but need to run Windows only software. Similarly, we were able to address some security concerns with some of our vendors that haven’t been as willing to address our concerns to date.
We investigated vendors who had new classroom furniture to show off, tools to help export grades from Moodle to Banner, better campus data access, and were reminded of the outstanding Learning Space Rating System that can be used to evaluate teaching spaces, and the FLEXSpace resource for sharing that data with colleagues across the country, and around the world.
Finally we were able to hear keynote talks from folks like NYTimes Columnist, Sway podcast host and social media maven Kara Swisher, and from the author of The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker, as well as hear how companies like Dreamworks were able to scale up their production capabilities with the help of their hardware vendor. During the meeting, we talked about the Top 10 Higher Education IT Trends, as detailed in Andrew Ruether’s post last week.
Sharing discussions and information with colleagues from across the spectrum of higher ed IT is surprisingly useful. We learned a great deal that we can put to use as we work to better server our community here at Swarthmore. Altogether an invigorating and productive meeting!